Report - Oxford City 3-5 Hampton & Richmond Borough
By Oxford City FC
Beavers Edge Goalfest.
Oxford City's perfect start to Marsh was brought to an abrupt end as an eight-goal thriller against Hampton and Richmond Borough ended in a 5-3 victory for the visitors.
Six of the goals were scored in an open-ended but ultimately deadlocked first half, but it was the Beavers who took the momentumn after the break and scored the goals required to take the points.
Mark Jones made a number of changes from the side which beat a youthful Oxford United XI on Tuesday night, most notably the return of Steven Caro to goalkeeping duties as Craig King finished serving his two match ban. The young stopper was protected by Eddie Jones at right back, with Tarik Moore-Azille and captain Joe Oastler in the centre of defence, and Joel Dielna preferred at left back. Josh Ashby and Jack Self were paired in midfield, operating behind Brandon Thomas-Asante, with Kyran Wiltshire on the right and Oxford United loanee Owen James making his full debut on the left. Finally, top scorer Kabby Tshimanga looked to add to his season's tally of 28 goals up front.
Earlier in the season, City managed to take the lead against the Beavers after just three minutes. Anybody hoping for another early goal today wasn't entirely disappointed, although they were left waiting an addition 7 minutes. Marcel Barrington was the man to make the breakthrough, latching onto a low corner at the near post to stroke the ball home and give the visitors the lead.
The lead didn't last long: Ashby stepping up to take a 16th minute free kick and leaving Tom Lovelock rooted with a confident effort.
The visitors looked to test Caro from range in response to being pegged back, but were instead presented with a chance from 12 yards in the 22nd minute. An innocuous long ball bamboozled Dielna, allowing Barrington time and space to find Casey MacLaren in the box who was swiftly taken down. Chris Dickson stepped up to take the spot kick finishing confidently to restore his side's lead.
Shockingly, the following quarter of an hour passed without another goal – the calm before an almighty storm.
With the visitors seemingly the more dangerous side, Tshimanga came out of nowhere to latch onto an optimistic long ball and round Lovelock to level the scores in the 36th minute.
Five minutes later, the Hoops took the lead for the first time in the game. An excellent corner found Oastler who rose highest to head against the bar, the loose ball making its way to Ashby whose driven cross was bundled home by Thomas-Asante.
The half did, however, have one final sting in its tail in the form of yet another equaliser – right on the stroke of half time. This time it was Zak Joseph who ghosted past Dielna, seeing his initial effort well blocked but going unchallenged as he retrieved the loose ball to beat Caro at his near post.
Whilst the first half was undoubtedly thrilling for any neutrals, the sheer number of defensive lapses from both sides will have been a worry for both managers. Mark Jones responded with a half time substitution, Joel Dielna making way for Ryan Case.
Upon restarting, both sides looked a touch more settled at the back – although Dickson did see a second finish ruled out for offside.
With 55 minutes played Caro produced a fine save – flying to his right to claw away MacLaren's effort from a corner.
In keeping with the first half, parity could not last forever, and it was the hosts who re-took the lead for a second time. It was another goal from a corner, the ball this time making its way through to the back post where Dickson was able to fire home for his second of the game with an hour played.
Mark Jones once again turned to his bench in order to try and change the course of his game, Reece Fleet continuing his return from injury at the expense of Owen James.
Things got no better for City at the back, Dickson dragging a chance at his hattrick horribly wide when clean through on goal.
A final substitution looked to inject a little pace in the form of Albie Hopkins, coming on in place of Jack Self.
While City were huffing and puffing, they never looked like blowing the visitors' house down: and their fate was sealed in stoppage time. With everybody forward for a last-gasp corner, Barrington came away with the ball and ran the length of the pitch to set up substitute Sotiriu who made no mistakes in beating Caro.
Defeat for the Hoops could spell a return to the poor form of 2019 thus far, and things will get no easier on Tuesday with the visit of title-challenging Woking. A 7:45pm kickoff at Marsh Lane.